Monthly Archives: May 2012

CANADA’S GREAT LAKES ARE IN TROUBLE

CANADA’S GREAT LAKES ARE IN TROUBLE

The following excerpts are taken from “Our Great Lakes Commons: A Peoples Plan to Protect the Great Lakes Forever”, by Maude Barlow, National Chairperson, Council of Canadians.  I’ve also included some information from Environment Canada.

I encourage you to watch the video, “Incredible by Any Measure…the Great Lakes”, created by The Nature Conservancy, that I’ve placed at the end of this blog – a wealth of information and incredible cinematography.

The Great Lakes of North America form the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world, holding more than 20 per cent of the world’s surface freshwater and 95 per cent of North America’s. Add to this the groundwater underlying and feeding the Great Lakes or its tribu­tary streams and lakes, and the percentage is closer to 25 and 97 per cent respectively. The Lakes and the St. Lawrence River, which is their primary flow outlet to the Atlantic Ocean, are bordered by two Canadian provinces: Ontario and Quebec, and eight U.S. states…

The Great Lakes have a unique biodiversity and are home to more than 3,500 species of plants and animals. They were formed over 20,000 years ago when the last glacier continental ice sheet retreated. The Great Lakes provide life and livelihood to more than 40 million people and are the economic centre at the heart of the continent. They are, however, under serious threat from a wide variety of demands and sources… There is a misconception that the Great Lakes replenish themselves each year with rainwater. This is not true.

. . . we have built our economic and development policies based on a human-centric model and assumed that nature would never fail to provide, or that, where it does fail, technology will save the day. We have polluted, diverted and mismanaged the planet’s finite supplies of water to the point that they are now dangerously close to collapse in many parts of the world . . . The waters of the Great Lakes are no exception to this rule.

 The Great Lakes – some vital statistics

The five Great Lakes  hold one-fifth of the fresh water on the earth’s surface and 80 percent of the lake and river water in North America. The Great Lakes basin, including the water and land area that drains into the lakes, covers 766,000 square kilometres (295,700 square miles). The shoreline of the five Great Lakes and the connecting rivers stretches for 17,000 kilometres (10,200 miles), long enough to reach nearly halfway around the world. The water of the Great Lakes flows from the middle of the continent to the Atlantic Ocean.  The lakes contain the world’s largest system of freshwater islands, some of which are refuges for rare and endangered species. About five million people fish in the Great Lakes. Close to one million boats, mainly pleasure craft operate on the Great Lakes.

A few ways we can help keep the environment and wildlife species of our Great Lakes safe.

Keep hazardous materials out of the water. Purchase products that are produced in ways that have a low impact on the environment. Use safe disposal methods for insect and weed killers, paints, solvents, used motor oil, and other auto fluids. Take them to hazardous waste centres for disposal. Take used motor oil to a service station for recycling. Take medicines to a pharmacy for safe disposal. Keep litter, pet waste, leaves, and debris out of street gutters and storm drains. Avoid hosing dirt into storm sewers because it can reduce flow in them and be carried into lakes and rivers. Use low-phosphate or phosphate-free detergents. Use natural pest-control methods. Disconnect downspouts and direct rainwater into a barrel or onto your lawn or garden. Use separate stones and porous materials instead of concrete for walkways, driveways, and patios so that water will seep into the ground rather than draining into the sewer systems. Support car washes that treat or recycle their wastewater and dry cleaners that are using new “green” processes.

 Video – “Incredible by Any Measure…the Great Lakes”

 Links -

http://onthecommons.org/sites/default/files/GreatLakes-Final-Mar2011(2).pdf

http://www.ec.gc.ca/media_archive/press/2005/050526_b_e.htm

FRIDAY AQUA ENTERTAINMENT – RainSoft – Eternally Pure Water Systems, Inc

Have I got some really neat water entertainment for you!!!

Synchronised Swimming a la Britain’s Got Talent

Awesome ‘Aqua Divas’

2012 Contestants
Quote from YouTube video info: “Watch synchronised swimmers Aquabatique make waves on Britain’s Got Talent auditions. Will Judges Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams leave them to synch or swim?

Published on May 10, 2012 by Ontv2012

Aquabatique Synchronised swimmers ballet HD Britain’s got talent 2012 Live Semi Finals. Aquabatique perform their underwater dance act outside the studio. They perform their water ballet routine to a medley of James Bond theme tunes.

Britain’s Got Talent 2012 Final – Aquabatique

Have a great weekend everyone.

FIRST FRENCH “PEDAL POWERED” SUBMARINE: THREE VIDEOS

This is the first time I’ve tried adding a sound track to my blog and it works – thanks to soundcloud.com!  If you are enjoying the music you might like to read ‘my personal note to all my readers’ at the end of the blog before you watch the amazing videos – enjoy!

PEDAL POWERED SUBMARINE 

The world’s first pedal powered submarine, called, “The Scubster”, has been invented in France by Minh-Lôc Truong and Stéphane Rousson, a team of French designers and engineers.   The sub is powered by connecting a pedal belt to a twin-propeller system that can reach speeds of up to 8 km an hour (5 mph ). The Scubster can reach a depth of 6 meters (20 ft), ideal for peddling through rivers, and shallow ocean excursions.

france, pedal-powered submarine, submarine, yellow submarine, scubster, pedal-powered submarine, french pedal powered submarine, scubster pedal power, scubster french submarine

I have included three videos; “A Scubster Story”;  the under ice testing at Piau-Engaly in the Pyrenees mountains in France; and also one from the 2009 International Submarine Race in Bethesda, Maryland.

     Link to YouTube video, “A Scubster Story” -

      Link to Scubster web site -

http://www.scubster.org/eng-Home.html

      YouTube video of winter testing under ice at Piau-Engaly, France -

      Link to YouTube video, 10th Biennial International Submarine Races, 2009 -

Personal note to all my readers -

After checking recent stats on our blog, I am absolutely blown away by the number of readers from around the globe who are sending best wishes and comments (which of course makes my work so much more rewarding).  Countries we’ve heard from so far (all 64 of them!) are listed below.  Rainsoft of Ottawa thanks everyone for your support and for showing your appreciation of my work ‘behind the scenes’. I hope to continue posting intriguing topics that pique your interest, inspirational posts for you to share, environmental concerns that will encourage you seek information from other sources and of course water related posts (conservation, environment, health, sports, marine biology, oceanography, etc.)  It’s also great to ‘tickle your funny bone’ with some of our “Fun Friday” posts from time to time.  Make sure to take time to check through our archives – many informative, enlightening, inspiring  and humourous articles await you…

      United States, Canada, India, Poland, United Kingdom, Australia, Philippines, Germany, Pakistan, South Africa, Lebanon, Dominica,  Costa Rica, Panama, Italy, Netherlands, Croatia, Denmark,  United Arab Emirates, Slovenia, Singapore, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Mexico, Greece, Bulgaria, Portugal, Albania, Venezuela, Czech Republic, Chile, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, Thailand, Bahamas,  Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago, Japan, Finland, Azerbaijan, Ukraine,  Belgium, Russian Federation, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Ireland,  Peru,  Hungary, Switzerland, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Serbia, Norway,  Morocco,  Ghana, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Macedonia, Cameroon,  Viet Nam,  Syrian Arab Republic, Ecuador.

HAPPY VICTORIA DAY, CANADA!

 

Happy Victoria Day!

from your friends at

Rainsoft Ottawa.

Victoria Day is celebrated on the first Monday preceding May 25th, in honour of Queen Victoria’s birthday.  On this day we also recognize Canada‘s reigning sovereign’s official birthday.It is a statutory holiday throughout all of Canada except the Atlantic provinces (New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island).

The holiday has been observed since before Canada was formed, originally falling on the sovereign’s actual birthday, and continues to be celebrated in various fashions across the country on the fixed date. In Quebec, the same day was, since the Quiet Revolution, unofficially known as Fête de Dollard until 2003, when provincial legislation officially named the same date as Victoria Day the National Patriots’ Day. It is a statutory holiday federally, as well as in six of Canada’s ten provinces and all three of its territories.

Victoria Day Happy Canada Icon Icons Emoticon Emoticons Animated Animation Animations Gif Gifs Happy Canada Day Niagra Falls Horseshoe Falls Fireworks Pictures, Images and Photos

 Who was Queen Victoria?

Victoria, who was queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and empress of India, was born in 1819. She was only 18 when she took over the throne in 1837 after her uncle George IV died. She ruled until her death in 1901, when her son Edward the VII became the King of England.

Queen Victoria was born on May 24th but Canadians celebrate Victoria Day on the Monday before May 24. Victoria Day became a popular holiday in Ontario (it was Canada West back then) in 1845 and a national holiday in 1901.  First Victoria Day was called Empire Day, then later called Commonwealth Day and now we call it Victoria Day.

Victoria Day Trivia
  • The earliest postage stamps in the world were the Penny Black of the United Kingdom and had the head of Queen Victoria on them. They were first used on May 6, 1840.
  • As a kid, Queen Victoria was trained to keep her chin up. To help her out, holly was put under her collar to irritate her if she put her chin down.
  • Victoria’s mom spoke German at home and even though she ruled England for 64 years, Victoria never learned to speak perfect English.
  • Queen Victoria was the last teenager to rule England.
  • Some cities celebrate this day with fireworks in the evening.

  http://www.kidzworld.com/article/783-queen-victoria-day#ixzz1vByYo7h9

After the death of Queen Victoria, an Act was passed by the Parliament of Canada establishing a legal holiday on May 24 in each year (or May 25 if May 24 fell on a Sunday) under the name Victoria Day. An amendment to the Statutes of Canada in 1952 established the celebration of Victoria Day on the Monday preceding May 25, making it the first long weekend of the summer season.

From 1953 to 1956, the Queen’s birthday was celebrated in Canada on Victoria Day. In 1957, Victoria Day was permanently appointed as the Queen’s birthday in Canada. In the United Kingdom, the Queen’s birthday is celebrated in June.

Victoria Day has also been known as the Queen’s Birthday, Empire Day, and Commonwealth Day. The holiday name was changed to Empire Day in the 1890s when enthusiasm for the British Empire was at a peak. By the mid-20th century, however, the Empire had given way to the Commonwealth, so the holiday became known as Commonwealth Day. In 1977 Commonwealth Day was moved to the second Monday in March and Canadians continued to celebrate Victoria Day in May.

http://www.calendar-updates.com/info/holidays/canada/victoria.aspx

FRIDAY FUN: 25 MOST MISSPELLED WORDS

More word fun for you from your friends at Rainsoft Ottawa.

I hope you score higher than I did on the test!

The 27 Most Commonly Misspelled Words

Your results “might” surprise you. 

 

After taking this test I’m glad I have my spell checker – more than evvvver!

This is a marvelous way to have your ego deflated too!

Click here: The 27 Most Commonly Misspelled Words

Have fun and let us know how you scored.

http://www.businesswriting.com/tests/commonmisspelled.html

‘WORLD FAMOUS GLACIERS’ PHLOG

As a follow up to yesterday’s blog on “Greenland Glaciers On The Move“, I felt it would be nice to showcase my first photoblog, or “phlog” of some famous glaciers from around the world in small collages that I’ve created for you.

I also have a wonderful video for you, entitled: “Indonesia’s Last Glacier” which I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

Of the five glaciers featured, I definitely had to include two countries, Indonesia and Argentina, because I was so surprised to find out that glaciers exist in these countries.  I have included a brief description with each collage.

Parque Nacional los Glaciares in Argentina

Los Glaciares National Park is located in Argentina – south west of Santa Cruz on the border with Chile. Its name refers to the glaciers that are born on the Ice Caps – the largest continental ice extension after Anctartica- which occupies almost half its area. Also known as Patagonic Continental Ice, creates 47 big glaciers, 13 of which flow to the Atlantic. There are also more than 200 smaller glaciers, unconnected to the Ice Caps.

Aletsch Glacier, Switzerland

The Aletsch Glacier is the largest glacier in the Alps, covering more than 120 square kilometres (46 sq mi) in the eastern Bernese Alps of Switzerland. It is composed of three smaller glaciers converging at Concordia, where its thickness is estimated to be near 1 km (3,300 ft). The glacier then continues towards the Rhone valley before giving birth to the Massa River.

 

Puncak Jaya in Papua, Indonesia

Indonesia has glaciers as well, as surprising as it may seem.  The ice fields of Puncak Jaya in Papua, Indonesia are also shrinking like other glaciers worldwide. Indonesia’s Puncak Jaya, earth’s highest island peak and the tallest mountain between the Andes and the Himalayas, holds the last glaciers in the tropical Pacific.  Ancient ice from such high, frozen peaks lets scientists examine past climates and understand mechanism of possible future climate changes. I found an impressive video for you – “Indonesia’s Last Glaciers”:

  

The Hailuogou Glacier

Hailuogou is a national forest park, located in Luding County, Sichuan Provincein China.  It’s glaciers cover 31 square kilometres of the Conch Gully. Classified as Modern Glacier, they came into being 16 million years ago. The Grand Glacier Cascade – 1,000 meters in height and 1,000 meters in width – is the only one in the world. The Hailuogou Glacier is noted to be the lowest glacier in the world.

Kilimanjaro glaciers

Kilimanjaro, in northern Tanzania, is unique.  You will climb through all climatalogical zones during the ascent – tropical rain forest through moss and desert to the snow on the summit – the ice fields that top Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak.  The combined area of glaciers in these three regions is about 10 square kilometers.

Link to LiveScience’s Gallery, “Awe Inspiring Glaciers”

http://www.livescience.com/15430-gallery-awe-inspiring-glaciers.html

 If you are visiting for the first time, I hope you enjoyed my ‘phlog’ and I’d like you to know that we’d  love to hear from you.  Thank you!

GREENLAND GLACIERS ON THE MOVE

GREENLAND GLACIERS ARE SPEEDING UP

A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation (melting and sublimation) over many years, often centuries.   Crevasses, seracs, and other distinguishing features of a glacier are due to its flow.  Another consequence of glacier flow is the transport of rock and debris abraded from its substrate and resultant landforms like cirques and moraines.  Glaciers form on land, often elevated, and are distinct from the much thinner sea ice and lake ice that form on the surface of bodies of water.

Greenland’s ice sheet is on the move, with new images showing its glaciers moving 30 percent faster than they were a decade ago.

Excerpts from article by Jennifer Welsh, Live Science Staff Writer Date: 03 May 2012

We encourage you to read the full article by checking the site’s url at the end of this blog.

The heavily crevassed ice on this small Greenland outlet glacier cascades down to the fjord water (bottom right), which is filled with icebergs and small bits of ice.
CREDIT: Ian Joughin and Science / AAAS

Small Ice Sources Pose Big Threat to Rising Seas Greenland and Antarctica … glaciers are shrinking and the water contained in them is moving into the oceans, adding to the already rising sea level.  A glacier’s velocity is a measure of how fast the ice on the surface of the sheet is flowing … The faster the flow, the more water and ice mass is lost from the glacier.

Greenland Glacier“You can think of the Greenland ice sheet as a really large lake that has hundreds of those little outlet streams that are acting like conveyor belts to move ice from the middle of the ice sheet, where it’s getting added by precipitation, to the edges,” study researcher Twila Moon, a graduate student at the University of Washington, told LiveScience

Alaskan Iceresearchers analyzed satellite images of the Greenland glaciers taken between 2000 and 2010. These annual images were put through a computer program to detect how quickly the ice is moving. In general, the glacial flow has sped up by 30 percent over the 10 years, Moon said … The glaciers that drop off into the sea are flowing the fastest, Moon said, up to 7 miles (11 kilometers) per year and their speeds are accelerating. “The areas where the ice sheet loses the most ice are also the areas we are seeing the biggest changes,” Moon said…

“A lot of the drive behind current Greenland ice sheet and Antarctica studies is to ask, ‘What sea-level rise can we expect?'” Moon said. “Both of these areas hold vast amounts of ice and the potential for very large sea-level rises. We need to understand what’s happening on them to see what potential scenario will be realized.”

Jennifer Welsh, LiveScience Staff Writer, May 03,2012

http://www.livescience.com/20082-greenland-glaciers-velocity.html

 Some images taken from LiveScience Ice World Album -

Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer, 05 August 2011
 
 AMAZING!!! Video of iceberg collapse in Wilhemina Bay region in Antarctica -YouTube, Mar 6, 2012 by – 
 

 

CORAL REEFS ARE IN CRISIS!!!

“Losing Our Coral Reefs

Excerpts from the article published in The Earth Institute, Columbia University, State of the Planet‘s blog, by Renee Cho, June 13, 2011

Before reading this you might like to watch the video included with my blog, “Great Barrier Reef” published March 6, 2012.

I urge you to read Renee Cho’s full article by clicking the link at the end of this blog.  Thank you.

Coral reefs, the “rainforests of the sea,” are some of the most biodiversity and productive ecosystems on earth. They occupy only .2% of the ocean, yet are home to a quarter of all marine species: crustaceans, reptiles, seaweeds, bacteria, fungi, and over 4000 species of fish make their home in coral reefs. With an annual global economic value of $375 billion, coral reefs provide food and resources for over 500 million people in 94 countries and territories. But tragically, coral reefs are in crisis.

Coral reefs are endangered by natural phenomena such as hurricanes, El Nino, predators and diseases; local threats including overfishing, destructive fishing techniques, coastal development, pollution, and careless tourism; and the global effects of climate change… 90% of coral reefs will be in danger by 2030, and all of them by 2050.

Coral reefs are colonies of individual animals called polyps, which are related to sea anemones. The polyps, which have tentacles to feed on plankton at night, play host to zooxanthellae, symbiotic algae that live within their tissues and give the coral its color. The coral provides CO2 and waste products that the algae need for photosynthesis. In turn, the algae nourish the coral with oxygen and the organic products of photosynthesis. The coral uses these compounds to synthesize calcium carbonate (limestone) with which it constructs its skeleton—the coral reef…

Of local threats to coral reefs, overfishing and damaging fishing techniques such as deep water trawling and the use of explosives and cyanide, are the most destructive… The global effects of climate change are also having critical impacts on coral reefs, and “the evidence is overwhelming that the ability of corals and the reefs they build to keep pace with the current rate of climate change has been exceeded” according to a recent study… When El Nino occurred in 1997-1998, widespread and severe coral reef bleaching occurred in the Indo-Pacific region and the Caribbean, killing 16% of the world’s coral reefs in 12 months… bleaching leaves corals vulnerable to disease, stunts their growth, and affects their reproduction, while severe bleaching kills them…

Today, coral reefs are experiencing warmer ocean temperatures and more acidity than they have at any time in the last 400,000 years. Acidification reduces the water’s carrying capacity for calcium carbonate that corals need to build their skeletons…It’s estimated that by 2050, only 15% of coral reefs will have enough calcium carbonate for adequate growth… Coral reefs provide us with food, construction materials (limestone) and new medicines—more than half of new cancer drug research is focused on marine organisms. They offer shoreline protection and maintain water quality. And they are a draw for tourists, sometimes providing up to 80% of a country’s total income. Losing the coral reefs would have profound social and economic impacts on many countries, especially small island nations like Haiti, Fiji, Indonesia, and the Philippines that depend on coral reefs for their livelihoods.

What can be done to save these precious and beautiful ecosystems?

The Coral Restoration Foundation protects and restores coral reefs through creating coral nurseries and transplanting corals into degraded reef areas. Concerned individuals can adopt a coral through the Coral Restoration Foundation or a coral reef through the Nature Conservancy, which uses the funds to conduct research, promote marine conservation and support the creation of MPAs. MPAs, which are being created worldwide, protect biodiversity and help communities manage resources sustainably.

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest and richest coral reef in the world because it has been protected since the early 1970s. The creation of an MPA off St. Lucia in the Caribbean has resulted in a tripling of the fish population…. by Renee Cho

http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2011/06/13/losing-our-coral-reefs/

NUDIBRANCHS – “SAY WHAT?”

 I really don’t know what I’d do without my e-mail account.  I’ve just discovered interesting information that I’d like to share with you about another amazing colourful mollusc-like marine creature, known as a “nudibranch” (pronouced NEW-dih-bronk) 

“Just what are nudibranchs?”, you might ask.

The nudibranchs are ocean bottom-dwelling, shell-less mollusks featuring featherlike gills and horns mostly found on their backs and are part of the sea slug family. They are noted for their often extraordinary colors and striking forms.

Nudibranchs are usually oblong in shape and measure anywhere from ¼ inch to 12 inches.

Nudibranchs are carnivores that graze on corals, anemones, algae, barnacles and sponges. To identify prey, Two extremely sensitive tentacles (‘rhinophores’) on top of their heads help them locate their food sources., called rhinophores, located on top of their heads.

The colour of the nudibranchs is retained from the food they digest.  This colouring and poisons they keep from their prey help the nubdibranchs protect themselves from predators.

Nudibranchs lifespans vary with some living under a month, and others living up to one year.



Related links -

SMH article ‘Underwater Wonders on Mail Run':

http://www.smh.com.au/victoria/underwater-wonders-on-mail-run-20120507-1y7vw.html

Aquatic Community.com:

http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/sw/nudibranch.php

Article in National Geographic:

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/nudibranch/

 

FRIDAY HUMOUR FOR MOTHER’S DAY

Make sure you see our SECOND Mother’s Day blog (also posted today) –

“A Tribute To A Mother’s Love”

WHEN YOU STOP LAUGHING – SEND IT ON TO OTHER MOTHERS, GRANDMOTHERS, AND AUNTS… and anyone else who has anything to do with kids or just needs a good laugh!!!

WHY GOD MADE MOMS

Answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions:

 Why did God make mothers?

To help us out of there when we were getting born.

 How did God make mothers?

God made my mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

What ingredients are mothers made of?

God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.

What kind of a little girl was your mom?

My mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.

Why did your mom marry your dad?

My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my mom eats a lot .

Who’s the boss at your house?

Mom doesn’t want to be boss, but she has to because dad’s such a goof ball.

What’s the difference between moms and dads?

Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work.

What does your mom do in her spare time?

To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

 What would it take to make your mom perfect?

Diet. You know her hair. I’d diet, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?

I’d make my mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it not me.